Sequel: Installing MS Windows with the patience of a saint …

This is the conclusion of my ordeal with a defective TouchSmart TM2 laptop, bought as new very recently.

There has since been a series of repairs precipitated by the fact that the laptop bluescreened during the installation of the factory image. The moment that happened, I sent it back again. Since then, a new hard drive was installed with a fresh factory image. It has since survived all updates I’ve thrown at it, including various and sundry software installations.

What frustrated me was that I didn’t get the minimal image which would have obviated all of the crapware on this machine. Instead, I got the normal install with the crapware and all of the unregistered games, which meant that I spent the next few days removing all of that stuff.

It has certainly survived one of the torture tests, which consists of sitting on my desk and doing nothing while switched on for a few hours. Previously, it would bluescreen almost certainly that way. Now, it never seems to. It is now within probability that I could actually use it to complete a task or two in the future, who knows?

About the previous blog entry

That entry the other day was somewhat in the form of a log. A blog entry that is a log. Imagine that.

Earlier this week, I decided to document the rescuing of my TouchSmart TM2 laptop from oblivion. It has nothing except the basic operating system installed, and it seems to give me the BSOD if I do things to it that in the laptop’s opinion is too much for it’s endurance. Such as running Microsoft Update. Such as letting it sit on my desk for a couple of hours, running while I made breakfast or something. I haven’t tried to install a single piece of any other software, just the OS.

I have certainly learned the power of good documentation from this exercise. The BSOD errors were many and varied. I rolled back the installation every time I saw one, or looked up the error code if the blue screen was on long enough. Things just seemed to get worse and worse. At one point, even doing a minimal install gave me a BSOD, and as a result, an incomplete install. At that point, I sent it, still under warranty, to an authorized repair depot, and even told them to try the install themselves (since they seem to stick to their guns about it being a “software issue”, when the only software is coming solely from the factory image). This will cost me $69.00 (plus extra costs to run MS Update), but I am pretty confident that they won’t make it past the SP1 installation, unless they really investigate the hardware beyond disk and memory. If it crashes on me again as a result of sitting on my desk or something, I am going to demand a refund (which I think will be coming from HP, which might be an issue).

Installing Windows 7 with the Patience of a Saint…

Here follows the installation (re-imaging) of Windows 7 on my laptop, an HP TouchSmart TM2, a refurb which I recently acquired this past Christmas. It has been giving me a litany of grief, to the point where it has been declared essentially unusable, except for updates done in a slightly different way next time to try new things. It has been repeatedly been sent back to HP, and due to a BIOS error regarding a fan (possibly the CPU fan), they replaced the mainboard instead. The BIOS errors hadn’t returned, but the BSOD’s did. Since the entire unit had been replaced earlier, then I suspect, though I have no evidence to back me up, that HP took the motherboard out of the old unit (for which I complained about repeated BSOD errors), and put it in this one, which had no other issues than the BIOS/Fan issue. I took the unit from the repair depot this past Friday, and that same night I started having a BSOD.

[Fri PM] After a BSOD incident last night, I re-imaged the hard drive,
the MB replacement may have had compatability issues with the existing
installation, which did not appear to have changed.

[Sat AM]There are a bazillion updates coming from all directions, not all
me to focus on one update at a time. The last time I tried to obey all
updates at once (about two months ago), it bluescreened. The TM2 seems
to be quite a delicate machine. Am disconnecting all devices, including the
network.

I am considering a MINT installation at this point.

[Sun 6AM]The crashes seemed to have stopped after the 134 or so updates
were appled for the second time. In the process, however, it seemed to
have forgotten about my optional updates, as they were deselected after
selecting them. These were for drivers and so on that are for devices on
my motherboard.

It reboots, then it needs another 16 “important” updates. Once again, I
am thinking that I should wait for those “optional” updates until later.
I sense the machine is “delicate”, but hard to know “in what way” is it
delicate? The installation of the 16th update is taking forever (System
Update Readiness Tool for W7x64).

I am aware that there is a ton of crapware on this machine, including a
lot of un-registered software. I need to delete as much of it as
possible.

[8AM] 4 updates failed, and things look strange. I ignore the situation,
and re-run the updates, and things go as before. Now it wants to install
another 10 updates. One of the failures was due to corruption of a file.
My guess it was from a file that was being downloaded during one of the
bluescreens. After a reboot, no further errors (for now).

[9AM] The 6 optional updates mentioned earlier regarding the drivers
for my mainboard components (video, touchscreen, etc) disappeared when I
attempted to run Windows Update again, but reappeared when I checked
again for updates. I checked the history, and it seemes their status was
“cancelled” as of yesterday (last I saw these options was today, before
re-checking for updates).

3 of the updates failed, and when I checked the history to see which
ones did, I find that there have been easily over 100 failed updates,
mostly due to this earlier file corruption that was never dealt with
(at least as far as I could tell with several random checks of these).

[9:30AM] Probably time to re-image my hard drive again. But before shutt
down, another update needs to hijack my computer for installation (which
will be gone anyway after the re-imaging). Oh, and then “configuring
windows updates”… Even though all this is going to be blasted away, I
am afraid to turn off my computer.

[9:38] I find that the “minimized image recovery” is the best, since it
reformats the entire hard drive. I am glad I am in the habit of saving
documents to separate drives. So, it gets the go-ahead. This should have
been the main way to do this from the start. I don’t need to worry about
lost files, so no backup is necessary.

[3:30PM] After running errands about town and tutoring math to a
student, I begin setup so that software and drivers are being configured
on the laptop.

[6:00PM] Bluescreen again, during a download of 99 updates. During this
time, it was also wanting to shut down due to changes I had made in the
startup options under MSCONFIG. Did not install NOD32 yet. Installing
now. Currently registered and updating.

[6:26PM] Windows is Installing/downloading 97 updates during shutdown.
When checking bluescreen STOP errors on the Microsoft website, it
appears that they reccommend that you need to roll back the installation
to before the stop error. That would be all the way back to the start
for me, since it’s my first download of updates. That’s assuming it’s
not a hardware problem, since stop errors can occur for that reason too.

Maybe I was being a little too ambitious …

I was trying to reinstall Windows 7 on an SSD drive from another computer. After two days of BSODs, failed updates, and the like, I was forced to consider whether the hard drive was actually corrupted.  There appears to be no end to the BSODs and failed updates, and the best advice from the online world could not really abate it. It only became less frequent. Many of the failed updates were traced to corrupt files, but not all of them. And worse, invoking the Windows Update Readiness “tool” only turned a couple of the failed updates into installed updates.

I don’t know if there is something to be said about the handling of hardware adding to the shortening of its life. It may be so, although, if one is properly careful with hardware, this shouldn’t be an issue either.

Too cheap to upgrade Win 7 HE to Win 7 Pro

I have a couple of computers running Windows 7 Home Edition and found the need recently to run remote desktop. I had found after looking around at the MS website that “I can’t get there from here”. That is, remote desktop is not a feature for HE, but is present if I upgrade. The person on the website did mention an alternative to Remote Desktop, and that was TeamViewer, which is free for non-commercial use.

On the plus side, I was able to run the program just as downloaded from the website without installation. Even better, I was even able to run the same copy of the program individually from both ends of the connection.

It seems to do the job, for sure. But I’m surprised at its slowness. At default resolution (which at 256 colors is not that great), windows move around slowly over my 10+Mbps lan connection (oh yeah, I forgot that the remote computer is connected using Wi-Fi). The speed improves slightly if you use TeamViewer to disable Aero. I may have to live with the slow speed due to the rather necessary Wi-Fi issue.

Features I have no use for, but may interest some are its ability to record a session on the remote connection. There seems to be also menu options for conference calls and VOIP. For myself, I ‘m just glad that I can view my desktop from another room and multitask in my home office, rather than having to go back and forth between two rooms (except to initiate the connection, which requires the remote computer and the local computer to run the program).

This kind of thing is intended for help desks, but I find it useful if I want to download and store certain kinds of files on particular computers, such as EMusic downloads, which are better off being stored on the same computer as my home theatre. Or download email from my ISP, which I keep on one computer, and not my laptop.